How to choose a belt

Truth be told, you probably don’t need a belt to keep your pants from falling to your ankles. In fact, if the only thing keeping your underpants under your pants is a belt, then your pants are too big.

But just because you don’t need a belt to keep your pants where you want them, doesn’t mean you don’t need a belt. A belt is a simple way to make your pants (and the rest of your outfit) look stylish and put-together.

A belt, in other words, is an accessory, like a necktie, pocket square or watch. There’s a reason why the overwhelming majority of men wear belts with dress slacks, suits, jeans, chinos and more: belts look good.

men with belt

If looking good is important to you, then it’s long past time for you to start treating belts as accessories rather than as tools to keep your pants in place. Accessories are meant to attract the eye without overwhelming an outfit. Stylish women tend to wear accessories quite well. They don't wear necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and more that complement their apparel. 

Men – even those who are otherwise stylish – often struggle with accessories. They choose garish watches meant to evoke wealth rather than to tell time. They carry backpacks meant for the great outdoors into the office. And they struggle to appropriately match belts to the rest of their look.

Here are four rules to remember about men's belts:

SACA belt
SACA Classic X Spin Belt from Taelor

Subtlety is usually best

A belt shouldn’t try too hard. It is an accessory, not the focal point. You should select belts in colors and materials that fit with the rest of your clothes. For the office, cocktail parties, etc., a leather belt is best. 

“Go ahead and match your black shoes with your black belt or your brown shoes with your brown belts,” advises Joanna Medeiros, a stylist with Taelor. “You don't need to make your belt a statement piece. Just stick with common neutral colors. Blues, black, brown, things like that.”

Casual footwear calls for a casual belt

Matching the color of your belt to the color of your shoes makes sense. But what do you wear around your waist when you’ve got sneakers on your feet?

“If you're wearing white shoes or maybe green shoes, olive shoes, something like that, I would add a tan or cream belt”

Melissa Slavick, Taelor lead stylist

Melissa continued “If you're wearing red sneakers, especially if it's a darker red or a stop-sign red, a black belt would look great.”

Similarly, casual pants, i.e., jeans, require a casual belt. A good rule of thumb is that blue jeans pair best with shades of brown in suedes or non-shiny leather. A black belt is fine with black jeans.

Belt buckles aren’t dinner plates

From time to time, for reasons no one can fathom, fashionable people suddenly decide to pretend they are cowboys. This last happened in the early 1990s, when line-dancing nightclubs like Denim and Diamonds attracted huge crowds in Los Angeles and New York.

Pretending you are a cowboy apparently requires you to wear a giant, ridiculous belt buckle with a picture of a buckin’ bronco or some such thing. 

Please remember: this is not the 1990s and you are not a cowboy. You shouldn’t own a belt with a buckle bigger than the palm of your hand.

cowboy belt

You’re not Fred Astaire

It’s possible to use something other than a belt for a belt. But that doesn’t mean you should.

Skateboarders and Gen Z teenagers, for example, often wear shoelaces for belts.

And famous dancer, movie star and style icon Fred Astaire was known to wear a necktie as a belt.

Seldom are those not-a-belt ideas are appropriate for most men. If you are a skateboard, feel free to dress like one when you’re not at work. But even if you dance beautifully, you will never be Fred Astaire. So keep the ties around your neck.

Fred Astaire
Image from

Want to learn more about belts and how to wear them? Check out this video from Aydreon Wynn, fashion influencer and Taelor partner.

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